Rachel Maddow informs the world about who's "very white:" No one gets informed more quickly than viewers of the Maddow Show. Last night's program provided a good example of this general principle.
Until last night, no one had the slightest idea why Candidate Trump would be staging campaign events in Massachusetts and even in liberal Vermont. On Monday evening, Maddow explained how weird it seemed that Trump was doing that.
For our previous post, click here:
MADDOW (1/4/16): This is a line to get into a Donald Trump rally in Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell, Massachusetts. Yes! And this is the third major campaign event that Donald Trump has mounted in the state of Massachusetts recently.The entire political world was puzzled by Trump's behavior. But apparently, Maddow began asking around, presumably speaking to trusted sources in the former Rhodes scholar community.
And if that is not weird enough, later this week, Mr. Trump is going to be making a big campaign stop in Burlington, Vermont, as in the city where Bernie Sanders was mayor.
Donald Trump, now campaigning regularly in Massachusetts and starting to campaign in Vermont.
Why is he doing that? I have no idea.
In the process, the mystery was solved. Breaking! Maddow explained what Trump is up to during last evening's program:
MADDOW (1/6/16): This is this nutty map of all the states voting on March 1st on Super-Duper Tuesday this year. Donald Trump has been working this map, which is why this week was his third big rally in the otherwise unlikely venue of Massachusetts.Interesting! If we understand Maddow's theory correctly, Trump is campaigning in Massachusetts and Vermont because those states are holding Republican primaries whose results will affect the Republican nomination.
Donald Trump keeps doing big Massachusetts events, which is weird for a Republican presidential contender unless that contender is making a Super Tuesday play, because Massachusetts is one of those states outside the South that will also be voting on March 1st.
Another one of the states outside the South that will be voting at the same time outside March 1 is the great state of Vermont.
And so...tomorrow we will be treated to the Bizarro World spectacle of Donald Trump not only campaigning in Bernie Sanders' state of Vermont, but in Bernie Sanders' hometown of Burlington, Vermont.
Matters like this start seeming simple when an expert explains them! As recently as Monday night, no one in the cable news/TV star community had been able to figure this out.
Kidding aside, Maddow went even farther with her explanations last night. Let's start with South Carolina.
South Carolina holds the first primary in the South. At the very start of last night's program, Maddow explained the nature of the electorate in that mysterious state:
MADDOW: For Democrats, it's a particularly important state because non-white voters are such an important part and such a big part of the Democratic Party's voting base and the other early states, New Hampshire and Iowa, they're pretty white. So for Democrats, South Carolina is a really important test of the strength of their various candidates particularly among this very, very important group that is African-American Democratic voters. That's true for the Democratic Party.We were puzzled by one part of that analysis. South Carolina Republicans are "almost 100 percent white?" What does Maddow think is true of Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire?
For the Republican Party, South Carolina has always represented a more complex challenge because after Iowa and New Hampshire get their say, South Carolina is the Republicans' first chance to measure which of their candidates appeal to the hardest of the Republican hard-core. South Carolina Republicans are very, very conservative. They're almost 100 percent white, they are hard-line, Southern Republican base voters.
In the 2010 census, the entire state of New Hampshire was 1.1 percent black! Is it possible that New Hampshire Republicans are also "almost 100 percent white?" How about the state's Democratic voters? What does she think about them?
(In the 2010 census, Iowa was 2.9 percent black. Vermont was 1.0 percent black.)
Maddow's comment almost seemed a bit odd. But as she continued, we got the impression that the peerless corporate political analyst was possibly trying to tell us something. Here's the way it went down:
Maddow was soon discussing this year's March 1 Super Tuesday events. On that day, primaries and caucuses will be held in seven Southern states and five more states in the North, including those previously undisclosed events in Massachusetts and Vermont:
MADDOW: South Carolina is the first stop in the Republican primary process for the most difficult Republican base voters when it comes to the general election. These Southern white hardliner base voters, South Carolina is where they get their first say in who the Republicans pick as their presidential nominee.In the primaries in those Southern states, the GOP will be foregrounding the concerns of "just a very, very white part of their base?" The GOP will be focusing on the "most purely white" part of their base?
So that's how it's been for more than a generation now. That's how it's been for years. This year, though, things are a little bit different.
South Carolina is still technically first in the South, but this year there's a lot more of the South in the early process. Because this year, just a week and a half after South Carolina Republicans go, you know, show themselves as the first in the South, a week and a half after that, all of these other states are going to go vote all on the same day. All on March 1st, all these Southern states, plus these other non-Southern states too. The mega-Tuesday primaries that are going to happen on March 1st this year, they will have the effect this year of making the early nominating process way more Southern than it usually is.
So yes, South Carolina is still first in the South, but right on its heels is a lot more of the South. And for Democrats, that means the concerns and preferences of African-American voters in particular will be of even more electoral importance than usual in this year's Democratic primary.
For Republicans, it means the party is foregrounding the concerns and preferences of not just a very, very white part of their base, but the most hard-core, most right-wing, most purely white part of their base.
What the f*ck is this person saying? one analyst finally said.
The analyst had a point. In what way are South Carolina Republican voters more "purely white," whatever that means, than Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont? In what way are they more "purely white" than Republican voters in Wyoming and North Dakota, which are also holding their caucuses on that day, March 1?
Statewide, Wyoming is 0.8 percent black. In what way are the Southern electorates "very, very white," but the Wyoming electorate isn't?
We explained these things for the analysts. We explained to them what Maddow meant by her strange formulations. We explained her regional and ideological framework, which we'd be inclined to call "hard-core, very, very Yankee pseudo-progressive."
We explained what Maddow meant when she said that those Southern voters are the "most purely white" part of the GOP base. We explained why she described the Southern Democratic base in such respectful terms, while the Southern Republican base voters were described as the most difficult, hard-core right-wing hard-liners who are "most purely white."
In the end, Maddow strikes us as a consummate Yankee tribal. For the most part, she does a job good hiding this trait. But tribalism of this type is very rarely constructive. Tribalism of this type lies at the root of all wars.
At any rate, credit where due! Maddow solved a riddle last night concerning Trump's presence in Massachusetts.
Until last night's show, no one had been able to figure it out! When a host can cut through a puzzle that way, the $7 million she's reportedly paid starts looking like money well spent.